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Jan 112010

From Green Right Now Reports

Until recently, critics haven’t had to work very hard at making a case against the electric car.

Most of the vehicles in question are small. Almost all either are relatively expensive or figure to be when they finally hit the showroom. With ranges between 40 (Chevy Volt) and 100 miles (Nissan LEAF), you won’t be going very far before you have to stop for a time-consuming charge.

Lately, though, progress is being made, and just how much the times may be changing will be on display at the North American International Auto Show, which opens to the media today in Detroit. (The show’s public run is from Jan. 16-24.)

On its way to Motown, the Tesla Roadster tried to toughen up the image of the electric vehicle. A team of Tesla employees drove the car  from Los Angeles to Michigan, stopping off for promotional appearances (and yes, a charge or two) along the way.

The message: The Roadster (which can go up to 240 miles on a full charge) isn’t just a curiosity; it’s a practical, real-world vehicle.

“It proves the Roadster is tough, durable, and range anxiety is for the weak,” a company spokesman said.

(Of course, that peace of mind is also expensive. While a cheaper model is in the works, the current Roadster lists at about $109,000 — a bit out of the reach of the average consumer.)

Toyota's concept compact hybrid, the FT-CH at the Detroit show

Toyota's concept compact hybrid, the FT-CH at the Detroit show

While the technology is still in the embryonic stages, electric is being taken seriously these days, even in staid old Detroit. Some 37,000 square feet of Cobo Center will be devoted to electric car displays.

Volt and LEAF figure to be among the show’s biggest stars.  BMW plans to introduce an electric-powered test vehicle, and Toyota is expected to take the wraps off its latest hybrid plan. Behind the scenes, GM, Nissan and Ford are engaged in improving lithium-ion batteries in order to increase the electric car’s range – generally considered the new breed’s biggest drawback.

With the major players finally getting onboard, electric may not be here just yet, but it surely seems to be coming.

Copyright © 2010 Green Right Now | Distributed by GRN Network

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